ANCHORAGE – Newcomer Tyler Brimhall scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds Friday to help the Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team hold on for an 82-73 victory over Antelope Valley in its 2018-19 season opener at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves also got a career-high 20 points from junior guard Jack Macdonald and 16 points from junior forward Niko Bevens as they led from start to finish, outshooting the visitors 48 percent to 38 percent.
The Pioneers (0-2) – an NAIA Div. I program from Lancaster, Calif. – were led by 15 points from forward Christian Drayton, while guard Miles Nolen-Webb added 10 points and 10 assists for the defending Cal Pac Conference champions.
“I thought we moved the ball well,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, who began his 15th season at the helm. “Facing their tough press for 40 minutes, we were able to find the open man and attack it. We will need to rebound better, among other things, but overall this was a good start to get a win tonight.”
A transfer from North Idaho College and former Div. I player at the University of Idaho, Brimhall didn’t wait long to get into the scoring column, swishing a three-pointer on the Seawolves’ first possession. Leading 10-9, Brimhall and freshman guard Tobin Karlberg made two more treys to expand the lead for good.
UAA went up 30-19 on a Macdonald three-pointer with 8:23 on the clock and took a 41-30 lead into halftime.
Senior center Brian Pearson and sophomore guard Brennan Rymer started the second half with consecutive layups to give UAA its largest lead at 45-30, but the Seawolves would have to fight off several Pioneers runs.
After Brandon Wade’s three-pointer cut it to a 50-45 game with 12:35 remaining, Macdonald answered with a layup off a feed from Rymer, followed by another three-pointer at the 10:52 mark. When UAV drew within 57-51, it was Brimhall’s turn to answer, nailing a baseline jumper and drawing the foul to complete a traditional three-point play.
Brimhall nailed his fourth and final trey with 6:36 left to make it 67-53, and the Pioneers would get no closer than six points with 13 seconds remaining.
Brimhall shot 8 of 14 from the field and added four assists as he became the first Seawolf since March 2017 to score at least 25 points. Macdonald shot 7 of 12 overall and 4 of 7 from long range, while Bevens was 6 of 12 from the field and dished three assists with no turnovers.
Rymer finished with team highs of five assists and three steals, and sophomore transfer Keenan Dowell had five points, four assists, no turnovers and two blocks in his Seawolf debut.
The same teams will rematch Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center, with tipoff set for 2 p.m.